Best Monitor For Photo Editing 2012?

Started Jan 1, 2012 | Discussions thread
Ethan Hansen Senior Member • Posts: 1,186
Re: Best Monitor For Photo Editing 2012?

We have a bunch of monitors for in-house and on-location editing. For critical work, a calibration package that offers full DDC control over the monitor settings, including grayscale and gamma tuning, is essential. Here's a quick list in decreasing order of image editing quality:

Quato Intelliproof ($1500 - $2500 for 24-27" monitors + $150 for calibration software). Can't find much to fault in the 24" LED display unless you want to work at luminance values under 130cd/m2 or edit video. Wide gamut, superb uniformity, good viewing angles. Difficult to obtain in the US.

Eizo ColorEdge ($2000 for 243W): Also an excellent panel. Good performance down to 120 cd/m2, but works best at 135+. Requires DisplayPort to obtain full color depth. 27" monitor comes with an integrated colorimeter that is neither worth paying for nor performs as well as the best standalone products. Can be calibrated by both Eizo's ColorNavigator software and 3rd party apps including ColorEyes and BasICColor. The CG241W costs ~$1600 and is almost as good if you do not have DisplayPort.

HP DreamColor LP2480zx ($2300). If you get a good one, image quality is excellent and the RGB LED backlighting promises long life and delivers superb color gamut. It took returning 3 panels to finally get one without across-screen color casts. Eizo and Quato offer better image quality for less.

NEC PA-series ($900 for 24", $1300 for 27"). Excellent monitors, good uniformity, images do not have quite the shadow resolution and lack of artifacts that the above monitors deliver. Given the price differential, however, neither Eizo nor Quato offer 2-3x the performance. In terms of bang-for-the-buck, NEC has a pair of winners. Requires either NEC's own software or BasICColor Display to calibrate. If using BasICColor, say you are not located in the US when installing the software if you want to control NEC panels (also unlocks other nifty features).

Dell U2410 ($500, or less on sale): A very good wide-gamut panel. Not up to the standards of the above monitors, but certainly adequate for use on-location (breaking a $500 screen is not the end of the world) or if you don't make your income from what your monitor shows. These screens really excel in brightly lit environments, but the downside is that shadow details and uniformity suffer at luminance settings below 140 cd/m2. Calibration is also an issue. None of the available packages can communicate over DDC reliably with the U2410. Finally, this panel is being replaced by the cheaper (in all senses of the word) U2412M.

Asus PA246Q ($500): Another good P-IPS wide-gamut panel. Across screen color and luminance uniformity can be variable; may require returning a panel to get a good one. ColorEyes Display does control the monitor using DDC which makes a huge difference in shadow uniformity. Once CED supports the i1Display Pro, this will be a very viable combination.

NEC EA232WMi ($270): Standard gamut, W-LED backlight. We use these (and the older EA231WMi) as palette monitors. I find the 1080 pixel height too small for photo editing, but as a secondary monitor it works. The new 232 version offers improved shadow resolution and less across-screen luminance variation than its predecessor. Calibrating the sucker accurately requires either an i1Display Pro or BasICColor Discus. The cost for the calibration system is roughly the same as the monitor (i1) or 5x the cost for the Discus.

Dell U2412M ($340). Also standard gamut, W-LED. Has the advantage of 16:10 aspect ratio over the NEC EA232WMi, giving you 1200 vertical pixels to work with. The extra 120 pixels may not seem that much, but they come in handy for editing. Viewing angles and both luminance and color uniformity slightly inferior to the NEC EA232WMi. The only improvement I can note over the U2410 is in the anti-glare coating, and you'll only see that if far too much light is falling on the screen in the first place. The extra $150 for the U2410 or Asus PA246Q is money well spent.

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